My Turn: Formula-based business

Published: 6/9/2021 1:13:26 PM

I respect and support the intentions of the Town of Deerfield Planning Board to tighten restrictions on the structure and appearance of any formula-based business (FBB) chains like McDonald’s or Target who might be considering opening a location in Deerfield. However, I have some thoughts voters might want to consider while deciding their vote at June 12 Town Meeting. The amendments only address the appearance of buildings so the 5 and 10 corridor north of Town center can still become another Hadley Route 9 strip, but instead of 25 ugly box stores, we’ll have 25 quaint-looking box stores.

We already have strong bylaws, mandates, a Town Master Plan, public hearings and plenty of concerned citizens who speak at board meetings, mail their opinions to board members, sign petitions and even express their thoughts on op-ed pages of local newspapers! My opinion is that these amendments could very well deter businesses that would be compatible with the town “quaintness” appeal.

Any large formula-based business can easily afford to make accommodations in their signage or color scene and jump through whatever hoops Planning Board puts down. They already have name recognition. But consider this. What if a “chain” of Vietnamese cuisine restaurants with a standardize menu has 15 locations worldwide and finds Deerfield to be a great place to open a new location? Should we require them to make their logo look colonial?

What about a wonderful Egyptian cotton clothing store with 12 locations having “a standardized array of merchandise with 50% or more of in-stock merchandise bearing uniform markings”? (I have no idea what that means). Would they be required to tone down their crazy yet charming color scheme because it didn’t fit in with the neutral-color building next door?

These articles would send the message that it’s possibly going to be a difficult and drawn out permuting process which they may not have the time or resources to persist and might look elsewhere. Yet these are exactly the type of establishments that would fit right in with Deerfield’s allure.

My opinion is that the problem isn’t with the existing laws but rather with appointed and elected board members not always abiding by them. These amended articles still allow a handful of people to decide what goes on in this town. We need to address how we voting citizens can hold board members accountable for their decisions and have procedures in place to remedy any decisions that blatantly ignore the laws and majority opinions among Town residents. Let’s address those bylaws first, if any exist at all.

People aren’t drawn to Deerfield because of convenient shopping but because it has not-the-usual places to shop and dine and wonderful adventures to explore. I see these amendments as a deterrent to that goal and an opening for the opposite to happen. Be mindful of the adage: be careful what you wish for. This is not the time to be voting on these articles because of the knee-jerk reaction many residents might have to the Dollar General issue.

Let it go for a future Town Meeting maybe after the Planning Board has had time to think about it more and alter the restrictions.

Reenie Grybko Clancy is a moderate and reasonable Progressive who lives in South Deerfield.


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